About Bulgaria
Bulgaria lies in the northeastern part of the Balkan Peninsula.The country is 520 km long and 330 km wide. It borders the Black Sea and the Danube river and is at a convenient and strategic crossroad location between Europe and Asia. -History: The Bulgarian State was established in AD 681 by Khan Asparouh. In AD 855, the brothers Cyril and Methodius, later canonized as saints, invented a S...
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Highlights of Bulgaria
 
1. Day: Sofia
Arrival at airport Sofia. The group will be welcome by a professional tour guide. Transfer to the hotel. Small tour of the city center with a visit to St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral. Dinner and overnight in Sofia.

2.Day: Sofia Rila monastery Melnik Sandanski
Rila Monastery was founded in the 10th century by St Ivan Rilski, a hermit canonized by the Orthodox Church. His ascetic dwelling and tomb became a holy site and were transformed into a monastic complex which subsequently played an important role in the spiritual and social life of Medieval Bulgaria. Destroyed by fire at the beginning of the 19th century, the complex was rebuilt between 1834 and 1862. The monument is a characteristic example of the Bulgarian Renaissance (18th19th centuries) and symbolizes an awareness of a Slavic cultural identity following centuries of occupation.
Melnik is the smallest town in Bulgaria, with population of about 250 people. It is situated in the southwest part of the country, close to the Greek boarder, surrounded by the ridges of Pirin and Belasitsa Mountains. The town is surrounded by impressive terrestrial pyramids. It has been declared a historical and a cultural reserve and a museum- town.
Dinner in a restaurant in Melnik. Overnight in Sandanski.

3.Day: Sandanski - Bansko
Departure to Bansko. Walking tour in the Pirin mountain. Dinner and overnight in Bansko.

4. Day: Bansko Dobursko Plovdiv
The village of Dobarsko is situated on the southern side of the Rila Mountain. It is 20 km north of Bansko. Its population is about 700 people. Here you can take delight in a fascinating view to three mountains- Rila, Pirin and Rhodope mountains as well as to the picturesque valley of the Mesta River. The legends recount that the first settlers were the blinded soldiers of king Samuil. After the Belasitsa battle in 1014 they stayed at this place to cure their eyes with the healing water which sprng out of the yard of the church "St.Teodor Tiron and Teodor Stratilat". In the years of the Bulgarian Revival period it became popular with resourceful cotton traders and it was the richest village in the region. Today Dobarsko has all the prerequisites for being an interesting tourist destination: dazzling view, crystal air, amazing waterfalls with 25 m of height, a healing spring, two unique churches and its location near to the resort of Bansko. The village is most famous for its church, erected in 1614. On one of the mural paintings Jesus Christ is pictured in a spaceship at that in times when our ancestors had absolutely no idea what is a spaceship. Visit the church and folklore show.
Plovdiv is the second largest city in Bulgaria. Its situated in the west part of Upper Thracian Lowland, in the Maritsa River valley. Plovdiv is one of the ancient cities in Europe. It has nearly 8000 years of history. The Ethnographic Museum in the Old town is housed in one of the biggest houses from the Revival period. The house has twelve rooms with two craft roofs, and wall painting. Many of the crafts are presented in the museum exposition.
Dinner in a restaurant in the Old town of Plovdiv. Overnight in the center of Plovdiv.

5.Day: Plovdiv Nessebur
Nessebur is a lovely picturesque place situated on a small rocky peninsula and linked to the mainland by a narrow neck of land, 400 m long. It is one of the oldest European towns and is declared a monument of culture under the protection of UNESCO. The ancient Greek polis Mesemvria appeared in the place of the Thracian settlement Mesambria (2nd millennium BC). In no time the polis became an important trading, craft and cultural center. A majestic statue of Apollonius was erected in it. During V-VIII centuries, Mesemvria was one of the most significant Black sea centers. In the end of this period it was a center of episcopate and also a naval base of Byzantium. In 812 Khan Krum captured the town but in 864 Tsar Boris yielded it to Byzantium. Its greatest efflorescence was reached under Tsar Ivan Aleksandur in the 10th century when about 40 churches and monasteries were built through donations. When Nessebur fell under Turkish yoke the fortified walls and many of the monasteries were demolished but its significance as a sea port did not change. The town has existed for about three millenniums - first as the Ancient Mesambria, then as Mesemvria from the period of the Middle Ages and finally as the Bulgarian Nessebur. The Medieval churches are the most impressive architectural monuments and are supposed to have been 41. Preserved up to the present day are "St Ivan Baptistki" church, turned into an art gallery, "St Stefan" church with mural paintings from the X-XII centuries. Dinner in a fish restaurant in the Old town of Nessebur. Overnight in Nessebur or Sunny beach.

6. Day: Nessebur Varna
The city of Varna lies in the Bay of Varna and is one of the oldest Bulgarian cities. In the 6th century Greek colonists from Millet first inhabited the area and gave it the name of Odessos. During the Roman times it was a big cultural and trading centre. Odessos was severally destroyed and finally fell under Byzantium power. Slavs renamed it to Varna and in the end of the VIII century it was included in the territory of Bulgaria. During the Second Bulgarian state, Varna was one of the most important trading and craft centres in the country. Its citizens traded with Italian towns republics and exported honey, wax, furs, grains, etc. In the XII-XIV centuries the town had an imposing fortress, that functioned after numerous reconstructions till 1829. During the first centuries of the Ottoman domination, in 1444, a spectacular Christian campaign, leaded by the Polish king- Vladislav III was directed to Varna. The town was sieged by the knights during that campaign. The young king died in a battle near to Varna, and locals erected a mausoleum to his honour. The surrounding area is well known as Vladisav Varnenchik Park-Museum. After the Liberation (1878), Varna became the third largest city in Bulgaria. It is the biggest sea port and one of the favorite holiday places.
Dinner in a restaurant in the center of Varna. Overnight in Varna.

7. Day: Varna Madara Arbanassi Tryavna
The Madara rider is situated 1.5 km east of the Madara village. This is a Medieval stone relief located at 23 meters of height on a vertical rock of the Madara plateau. This is the only monument in Europe declared by UNESCO a monument with world significance. The relief represents a life- size horse rider, turned right. Using a spike, the rider stabs the lion, lying in his legs. A dog runs after the knight. The scene probably represents important historical events and gives an idea of the Medieval Bulgarian art. The composition is supposed to be Khan Tervel, because three groups of inscriptions - Chronics have been added. The inscriptions of Madara although was written in Greek, it symbolizes the power of the young Bulgarian nation established in the Balkan. In Arbanassi plateau which is 420 m above sea level, and 4 km northeast of Veliko Tarnovo is situated the village of Arbanassi. Established in 14th century by Bulgarian boyars, the village has survived for many centuries thanks to the presence of highly talented Goldsmiths, blacksmiths. The greatest tourist attraction in this village is the unique architecture dating from the Bulgarian national revival - 16th-17th century. The houses are of very high stone- walls- like citadels. The interior settings - windows, doors, roofs are decorated with detailed woodcarving and the walls are decorated with plaster elements in the form of flowers. There are 80 preserved houses in this village and many of them are national cultural heritage. The oldest church is Rojdestvo Hristovo (Christmas) and its the most decorated. The village of Arbanassi is an architectural heritage and its listed among the UNESCO world heritage. Dinner and overnight in the romantic town Tryavna.

8. Day: Tryavna Ethura Bozhentsi Kazanlak
The town of Tryavna is situated in the north slopes of the Balkan range, on the Tryavna river valley. Green fields and venerable coniferous and deciduous forests surround the town. The village was founded as early as the Thracian Era. However, the first documents of its existence date back to the 12th century. The town Square, named Capitan Diado Nikola, with the clock tower, dating from 1814, are among the landmarks. Another tourist attraction is the "kivgireniyat" bridge, built above the river behind the clock tower. In the Capitan Diado Nikola Square has been built one of the first secular schools in Bulgaria. Another symbol of Tryavna is the St. Archangel Mihael Church, situated in the town center and built in 1814. The wood carved iconostasis and the bishop's throne in the church are real masterpieces of the woodcarving in Tryavna.
The Ethar Architectural and Ethnographic Complex is an open air museum with an operative display/lay-out that is unique both in Bulgaria and the whole Southeastern Europe. It is situated in the northern spurs of the Balkan range, and is 8 km south of the centre of Gabrovo city. It has a total area of about 70 decares. Its construction began in 1963 with the purpose of exhibiting most artifacts by craftsmen around this region, during the peroid of the Bulgarian revival. It has been under construction for 13 years. The museum offers a retrospection and an introduction with the customs and traditions of the local people. The mechanisms in the workshops and mills are only water- driven by river called Sivek which does not frozen in the winter. Using original instruments and following the old traditions locals represent around 20 characteristic of the region crafts such as wood- carving, pottery, coppersmith, furriery, cutlery, tailoring etc.
Bozhentsi is a small village, tucked in the north sides of the Central Balkan Range at 750 meters altitude. Its 16 km south-east of Gabrovo and is situated in a valley bisected by a rivulet. Bozhentsi is a historical, architectural heritage, preserving more than 100 monumental houses from the Bulgarian revival. According to the legend, the village was founded by the boyar named Bojana. She settled in this place in conjunction with her 9 sons when the Turks conquered Veliko Tarnovo in 1393. The village grew because an important road, crossing the Balkan Range, passed through it. The local people were engaged in stock- farming, crafts and trade. They built picturesque Bulgarian houses with high stone fences, hammered gates and workshops. Bozhentsi and its unique atmosphere reveal us the manner of life of the ordinary people and their disobedient, free spirit.
Kazanlak is situated in the Valley of Roses, surrounded by the south foot of the Balkan Mountain and the north slopes of Sredna Gora. Kazanlak is a successor of the ancient Thracian capital Seuthopolis, built by the Thracian King Seuthes III in 6th - 5th centuries BC. Rich Thracian civilization was founded in the valley around the river Tonzos (today Toundja). It was economically connected with Hellas. An ancient Thracian tomb, proving that, was accidentally discovered under a huge mound in 1944.
Dinner in a restaurant in the town. Overnight.


9. Day: Kazanlak Koprivstitsa Sofia
Situated in the recesses of Sredna gora mountain, the town of Koprivshtitsa stands at 1060 meters altitude. Koprivshtitsa is unique place, over 300 monuments of the Bulgarian culture from the revival period have been preserved. The old houses have big eaves, stone walls and wide wooden gates. The exterior features windows, shutters, bay- windows painted blue, yellow and red. The house- museum called Oslekova house is the most famous architectural and ethnographic monument in the town. Its owner was a rich merchant from Koprivshtitsa and the house features with its artistic carved ceilings and its walls, painted in beautiful geometrical figures. In the evening dinner with traditional Bulgarian dances program in a restaurant in Sofia. Overnight.

10. Day: Sofia transfer to Sofia airport.